How To: Remove Nail Polish Stains From Your Clothes & Other Fabrics

Kanak Devnani , 30 Jan 2021

Who doesn’t love a DIY manicure? They are fun, cost-effective and allow you to extend the life of your professional polish or try different colours without leaving the comfort of your home. But we’ve all been there where on occasion everything goes array. Could be you knock over a bottle or your hand slips and there spills your favourite shade of nail polish all over the carpet or couch, or even worse your outfit— yikes! No matter how careful you’ve been sometimes it’s just unavoidable. Now you’ve got an annoying splotch that’s tough to remove since nail polish is literally designed to stain. While the best-case scenario would be to call in a cleaning expert, there are a few tricks that you can use to remove the polish in certain instances if you’re in a pinch.

Keep reading below to check out how to quickly get nail polish stains out of clothing and other fabrics at home:

Precautions to take

First and foremost, before doing anything you need to read the label of your garments or accessories. If the fabric is especially delicate or has a fibre content of acetate, triacetate, or modacrylic, do not attempt to remove the stain at home. There’s no home removal method that’s safe for these fabrics. If used they could possibly create holes in the item. More so if your beloved article of clothing is at stake the best move would be to take it to your trusted dry cleaner. Some items and materials like silk and wool will be best handled with professional care.

1. For washable clothing

Nail polish stains can be tough to remove from clothing. The key here with any stain issue is to act quickly. You want to contain the spill and dry it as soon as possible. Avoid rubbing or wiping it as that can push the liquid deeper into the fabric. The safest way to deal with it is to wait until its fully dry.

  • First, saturate the area with a spritz of hairspray. Wait until that’s dry, then use a pair tweezers to peel and lift it at the edges. Gently scrape away any flaky residue. 
  • If there’s any polish left you might need acetone or nail polish remover. But first, always test out a dab in the hidden seam of the fabric of the item. This is to ensure the solution not affect the colour or damage the fabric in any way.
  • Place white paper towels under the stain to absorb any excess. Then dab stain with a clean white cloth or cotton swab dipped in nail polish remover. To be on the safe side you can also use a non-acetone remover. Keep working until all traces of the polish are gone
  • Once the stain is gone, machine-wash the garment in cold water. If the stain persists its time to let a professional deal with it.

This method works great on natural fabrics and certain synthetic ones but fabrics like silk and wool may deteriorate. If you’re unsure or hesitant, take it to the cleaners and do not attempt to deal with it at home.

Woman with towel doing pedicure on bed By Leonardo Moreno C | www.shutterstock.com
Woman with towel doing pedicure on bed By Leonardo Moreno C | www.shutterstock.com

2. Remove polish from the carpet

  • Once the spill is dry. Use the same hairspray trick and pick off a dried polish. Get as much off then use a vacuum to suck up any loose dried pieces.
  • Gently blot the spill with a cloth soaked in rubbing alcohol. 
  • Test a section of the carpet first then go in with a cleaning solution or apply detergent and some lukewarm water with a cloth to remove any remaining particles. Remember to always dab or blot do not rub.
Red nail polish spill By Maria Dryfhout | www.shutterstock.com
Red nail polish spill By Maria Dryfhout | www.shutterstock.com

3. Remove polish from upholstery

You can use the same technique as above on most upholstery too. However, if the material is is silk or a vintage fabric or anything very delicate, please call in a professional cleaner. Heres, a solution you can try in the event of a spill. Mix a cleaning a solution containing one tablespoon of liquid dish soap and two cups of water. Then dab the stain with a cloth. Alternatively for tougher stains apply a small amount of baking soda. Let it sit for a few minutes then gently scrub away.

Furniture (Image Courtesy: Shutterstock)
Furniture (Image Courtesy: Shutterstock)

4. Remove polish from leather or suede

If you’re dealing with leather or suede items you’ll need a different approach. Whether it’s the couch or your favourite pair of shoes or jacket here’s what you can do.

  • Do a patch test on a less visible area to see how the cleaning solution will react.
  • Use vinegar or rubbing alcohol to remove the nail polish stain. Avoid acetone altogether here as it can be damaging to the fabric.
  • Blot off the stain then peel off any remaining polish once dried.
  • Finally, apply a leather or suede conditioner to the fabric to restore its appearance. 
Black Leather Jacket By 101imges | www.shutterstock.com
Black Leather Jacket By 101imges | www.shutterstock.com

Have you tried any of these methods before? How do you get rid of any nail polish stains? Let us know in the comments below.

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